Saturday, November 11, 2017

UVA Basketball Has Started

Let's face it: there is no sport better than college basketball--and the season got off to a great start last night when the Wahoos beat UNC Greensboro 60-48. I watched it on ESPN3 on my computer by a warm fire, and followed along with my Twitter feed. A couple of thoughts:
UVA guard Kyle Guy, this year (thankfully) without the man-bun

--Virginia basketball is knocking on powerhouse status. Coach Tony Bennett is building a program that has had consistent success since the 2012-2013 season, including two ACC regular season titles and one ACC Tournament Championship. Bennett has a system and a defined philosophy, and it works. He is also personally likable, at least to the extent that one can discern from press conferences and the like. He is immensely popular with the fanbase.

--UVA plays a very particular brand of basketball. Stifling, crushing defense and ball-control offense that relies HEAVILY on perimeter play. They don't score much, but then again, they score more than the teams they play. Because they play deliberately, they get fewer scoring opportunities than other teams who run the floor. Because they convert their offensive opportunities at a higher rate--they win. Where they run into trouble--is when the perimeter shooting fails them. And this does not happen infrequently.

--That fanbase--especially the portion that are especially fond of Bennett--tend to brook no discontent with the team on social media. To some, any negativity/constructive criticism of the team, its players, or its coaches--is disloyalty. More frustrating even than that is the constant undercurrent of "shhh...don't say mean things or Tony will pack up and take the Wisconsin coaching job." These jealous protectors of the egos of the players and coaches tend not to specialize only in basketball--but also chide anyone with a cross word about any UVA sport. They appear (at least to me) to believe that being a Wahoo fan demands absolute loyalty and positivism, and that even objective criticism goes too far.

--Now comes the hard part. Sometimes my emotions overcome my objectivity and I write things that while (objectively!) true, come across with sarcasm and curmudgeonliness, and I suppose I am due for a bit of ragging.

All that said--I think UVA could have a solid year. They have a lot of talent--but it is unproven. The team reminds me of the 2013-4 one which muddled along though the halfway point in the season, and then got wicked hot late when the team gelled. I can definitely see the potential for this here.  Wahoowa!

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